Thursdays dinner meeting went so well that the Charlotte Bobcats tried to sign Antawn Jamison over dessert.
That didnt quite happen. Jamison told Bobcats executives Rod Higgins and Rich Cho to contact his agent, Arn Tellem. But the intent of the meeting selling Jamison on the idea of finishing his career as a veteran presence here resonated with its target.
Jamison, the 14-season NBA forward, and Jamison, the dad, are in a bit of a debate. The competitor wants to find a contender to maximize the chance of winning a championship before he retires. The dad hears four kids, ages 12 through 2, who want him home this winter.
My kids being around them is very important, Jamison said in an exclusive interview Friday with the Observer. I want to see them every day. And when Im on the road, when I havent seen them for weeks, I hear, When are you coming home?
The Bobcats are prepared to pay Jamison to serve as mentor on a young, rebuilding team. Jamison would be a good fit on several levels; hes savvy and personable a pros pro. And he can still play, after averaging about 17 points and over six rebounds last season in a similar role with the Cleveland Cavaliers.
Beyond that, there are the obvious local ties: Jamison grew up here, starring for Providence High before moving on to North Carolina and then the NBA. Hes up there with Bobcats television analyst Dell Curry on the local basketball good-guy scale. Though he was never a Hornet when they were here, or yet a Bobcat, he never really left Charlotte, building a homestead in the area.
His family lives here year-round, while he spends winters with whichever team employs him. The Bobcats have offered an alternative any dad would find intriguing.
We broke the ice, Jamison said of his two-hour meeting over dinner Thursday night. To say theres interest on both sides is definite.
Now its up to me. Do I want to come home to be with my kids? Or should I pursue the best opportunity to win a ring?
Jamison sees a championship as the only remaining hole in his pro career. He was twice an All-Star while playing for the Washington Wizards and his time in the NBA has been long and lucrative. Jamison said Friday he hasnt had specific discussions with contenders. The Golden State Warriors, now run by his former agent, Bob Myers, has reached out, suggesting a role similar to the Bobcats proposal.
Jamison said the advantage of signing with the Bobcats is more reliable than the prospect of signing with a contender.
The only thing left I havent accomplished is to be part of a championship team, Jamison said. But the realization is signing with Miami or L.A. or Boston doesnt mean its a shoo-in (a title run) would happen.
Spending two or three seasons (on an elite team) increases the chances, but its not guaranteed.
Then Jamison talked about the alternative in Charlotte.
Being really involved in the parenting experience throughout makes a difference, Jamison said. Kids that age understand a whole lot (about a parents presence). Taking them to school and picking them up. This would be a great fit to incorporate that with my job. I know the area. I know the arena. I know most everyone who works there. Its home.
Jamison has researched the situation, checking out new coach Mike Dunlap and the personalities of the players already under contract to the Bobcats. Hell take some time to see which other teams are interested. But hed like to make a decision by mid-July and it was obvious Friday that for once the Bobcats might have a home-court advantage.
Charlotte is so much in me, Jamison concluded. Its where I started. Might not be bad if it ends here, too.